Down to earth: how escaping to the country isn’t always what it seems


When Rebecca Schiller swapped the city for a rural dream life seemed idyllic. But however far you go, you can’t escape your self…

Winter has hung around this year as though even the seasons are waiting for government permission to unlock. Despite spring’s late arrival on the smallholding, Amber has gone into labour early. It’s just me and her in the kidding pen; me muttering soft, nonsensical words of encouragement, her bleating through contractions and resting against my hand. She pushes again but nothing happens. The hooves of the emerging kid have been static for too long and the out-of-hours emergency vet is on the way. I give into a two-minute power cry because I don’t know if this day will end with life or death, and then the vet arrives and I snap out of it. “I’ll give her an epidural first,” he says, getting to work matter-of-factly. A goat epidural – of course.

Five years ago I lived in town, had just two cats and barely knew the difference between hay and straw. Now, somehow, I’m a person with an overdue account at the agricultural merchants and I know how to organise a spinal block for a goat.

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